The big news from Gel-O to kick off the broadcast is that Samsonov is out for the Canes with a lower-body injury, and Babchuk is a healthy scratch. Huh. Meanwhile, Chico’s still apologizing for Marty for the non-interference call at the end of Game 4, and bitching about how the very fabric of society is going to unravel if those kinds of calls are allowed to stand. We’re exhausted already – Chico? Not another word.
Before the drop of the puck, we get a look at Sutter walking down the bench and barking briefly into each guy’s ear. He’s probably doing a last-minute check to make sure that all of his skaters realize that the team with the most goals at the end of the game wins. We then see Madden talking to Clemmer, and Boomer loses her mind: “What is he doing talking to Clemmer? Don’t talk to him, Madden!”
18:16 The teams are in that Game Five kind of “we already know each other pretty well, so let’s just see how this game is going to unfold” feeling-out process, so we have nothing really to remark upon except that our new favorite dasher ad, in the absence of the Swedish Fish one, is the one for Hoboken Lock. If we lived in Hoboken, we’d be calling them right now.
17:36 Clarkson cartwheels over Ward, and gets called, rightly, for goaltender interference. Chico tries, during several replays, to show us that he was pushed in, or Ward wasn’t in the crease, or somehow it’s just all cosmically unfair, but he’s full of it.
15:36 The PP was good, and so was the PK. We’re not sure who has the edge yet.
14:43 Okay, the Hurricanes might have the edge – they get a flurry of shooting chances while the Devils stand around worriedly. But maybe the Devils have the edge – all the shots go wide.
14:26 Is it just us or is Gio looking like he’s trying to fit an entire contract year into one playoff series? He’s had more jump in the last four games than he showed all season. And on this shift, some gentle-giant forecheck by Zubrus tries to turn into a turnover, but Gio manages to accomplish enough of a shot on goal that Ward has to freeze it.
13:31 The fourth line brings some offensive-zone swagger to the ice, and draws a roughing penalty to Seidenberg. Commence with the scorched earth, PPers.
12:16 Doc curses the Devils by pointing out that there has only been one shortie in this year’s playoffs so far.
11:28 Clarkson kills off the final fifteen or so seconds of the PP by refusing to play the puck in favor of trying to draw penalties. We’re trying to decide now how, exactly, Clarkson’s going to cost the Devils this game; regardless of the specifics, we’re fairly confident it’s going to happen.
9:57 Paulie is fairly well bested by Cullen while chasing a two-on-one (Marty and Oduya manage to hold strong, though), and Pookie creates a new composite word out of “putrid” and “ass” when she sighs, “Paulie is putr-ass tonight.”
7:32 The Madden/Pando/Shanny gets a fantastic flurry, with Ward diving out of the net, and Madden almost having a chance to squeak a bad-angle shot into the vacated net, but the Hurricanes survive it. And then the play breaks up completely when Paulie can’t hold the point. He really is the dictionary definition of putr-ass.
6:11 Zubrus and Gio take turns handing the puck to Hurricanes in the Devils zone when they could have cleared it. Gio follows his turnover by hooking, holding, and then wrestling the Cane to the ice. There is, curiously, no call.
5:30 We have no idea what is going on tonight. The Madden/Pando/Shanny line continues to be the best one for the Devils, and after forcing a turnover in front of Ward’s net, Madden makes the most of a “getting pushed by a defender into the goalie” opportunity and makes himself at home lying on top of Ward in the crease. The official is barking something at one of them (Chico thinks he’s lecturing Ward), but play continues.
4:50 Marty skates out to the hashmarks to play the puck, and LaRose takes the opportunity to crash, skate-first, into him. Marty goes down in an injured-looking heap, then realizes play is still going on and has to race back into his net to try to dive after an incoming shot. He’s lucky the Canes were as panicky on that play as he was, and they shot wide.
4:28 Now that he’s well-distracted, rattled, and pissy, Marty takes an interference penalty. Some composure would really help, Marty.
3:46 Chico keeps our optimism going strong by telling us Marty looks like he was cut on the ankle or foot on that collision with LaRose, and keeps flexing his foot. Meanwhile, Marty is making very strong saves on the PK. We don’t know what to think anymore.
2:08 Pookie: “It kind of looks like both teams are playing international soccer here. Everyone is just flopping over all the time. It’s like an entire ice sheet of Zambrottas.”
1:00 Doc’s play-by-play of a sequence in the Carolina zone includes him saying that a defender “can’t get [the puck] away from the reach of Havelid.” Pookie: “If you can’t get it away from the reach of Havelid, you should just hang ‘em up.”
0:00 At the buzzer we rewind a few seconds to watch Pando’s attempt at being an Italian soccer star. He skates toward the Carolina blue line and then, when a defender comes near him, falls over and literally rolls twice. It’s dazzling.
Blah blah blah.
18:33 The Poppers start the period off with a fantastic shift full of hard work down low, sassy shooting and Ward looking totally unbeatable. Hm. We liked the first two parts of that list more than the third.
18:19 And to finish off his great shift, Zach draws an interference penalty for Gleason picking him at the side of the net.
17:24 Cole decides he’s going to give Doc that shortie he’s been talking up all night, but Rolston drapes himself all over him on his rush up the far wing, taking a holding penalty in the doing.
15:21 Oduya remembers that this is the Hurricanes, his coast-to-coast team. And so he rounds up the puck deep in the Devils zone in the waning seconds of the PK, and then smoothly swaggers his way through almost all the skaters on the ice before settling on a weak backhand shot from a bad angle. It was a good try, though.
14:35 Pookie, watching the fourth line try their shooting-gallery best: “Ward is surprisingly athletic.”
13:15 We are discussing the officiating in this game, and we ultimately agree that the calls have been very even, but that the refs seem to be letting all kinds of stuff go. Schnookie: “It’s like the league suddenly realized they might have to put this series on NBC Sunday, and they asked the officials to turn this into a powderkeg.”
12:41 Jokenin takes a point shot that pinballs into Marty, bounces off his glove, off the pipe, off his back, then stops on the line before Marty covers the puck with his glove. Pookie: “See, I’m the kind of person who looks at that and thinks, ‘There’s your even-up after Game 4.’”
12:16 Carolina puts on its best offensive-zone shift in some time, and just when we’re thinking the Devils are going down a goal, Marty makes a snappy glove save on a LaRose shot from the point. It’s nice to see the composure back again.
10:09 The officials have now tilted the “bullshit call” decidedly in the Devils’ favor, as Eaves gets called for tripping in the corner to Ward’s right after Zubrus takes a dive that would embarrass even the Italian national soccer team. We guess that’s what the Canes get for having had, as Doc informs us now, the last eight shots of the game.
8:38 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Clarkson’s going to have to work extra-hard to cost the Devils this game now. Greener lasers a perfectly-tippable shot from the right point that Clarkson, parked right on top of Ward, gets his stick on to make it 1-0 Devils. And since that was a complete joke of a call to put the Devils on the PP, we can safely say that the Hockey Gods have evened up whatever lingering injustice might have existed from Game 4, if you believed there was any. Which we do not.
5:59 The Poppers are taking a turn being pinned in their own zone. We don’t like it when the tables are turned like this.
5:17 The Madden/Pando/Shanny line takes the ice to calm things down after the Poppers’ defensive failures, and they get a great chance for Shanny off a smartly-conceived rush by Pando. The Hurricanes are unimpressed and resume setting up with ease around the perimeter in the Devils zone.
4:26 The puck finally gets deflected off the ice, and we get a whistle after what seems like about a half an hour of end-to-end free-wheeling hockey. We hear rumors that Blersus is going to be joining this game in progress when the Pens finish off the Flyers, so the teams better get the interesting hockey out of the way before then.
4:01 Doc, as a breakaway play unfolds: “Brodeur!! With the long pass!!! And here comes Mike Rupp!!!!!” The expected happens. Pookie: “And there goes Mike Rupp.”
2:18 Madden takes a long shot from way outside off the rush, and it goes just wide. Schnookie: “That’s funny. Those used to go in against Cujo.”
0:53 Whitey skates up to a Cane scrumming for the puck at the near boards and basically just punches him in the throat. Carolina goes on the PP.
0:21 Marty makes a great save in traffic while all manner of guys in white sweaters fall on top of him. This series is getting comical.
0:00 The buzzer sounds after a wild end-to-end exchange of chances by both teams. Whew! As we watch Madden take down Hooters as the clock winds down, Pookie remarks, “That’s weird. Hooters doesn’t wear a visor.” Boomer, very quietly, says in her Staal-brother voice, “Hooters is tough sod farmer. Don’t need eyes.”
That weird Face guy interviews a trio of the Devils dancers in the gift shop. And while that’s going on (us with the sound off) a little subliminal Chuck the Duck graphic pops up in the lower corner of the screen. We wonder if that made sense when there was sound.
18:36 The Devils finally touch on a delayed penalty after Oduya cross-checks Hooters in front of the net on a PP-ending scramble. This period’s going great!
18:23 Marty makes a great, improvisational save on a triple-deflection. Fine, Marty – we’re sorry we made fun of you for losing your marbles the way you have over the last 48 hours. But you’re still on notice. There’s plenty of Brahms left to be played in this game.
16:32 The kill comes to a successful close thanks in large part to Jokinen’s steadfast refusal to take a shot from above the near faceoff circle no matter how much space the Devils are giving him to do it.
15:36 Zach is Andy Greene-killing. The Devils set up deliberately in the Carolina zone, and after some cautious passing, Zach looks directly at the point, then shuffleboards the puck up to it… despite the fact that Greene had moved centerward. It’s like Zach specifically waited to make sure Greene wouldn’t be there for the pass. On the bench, Sutter is probably grinning and thinking, “Excellent! I hate that Greene kid!”
14:37 The Devils D has entered its “isn’t it hilarious how many turnovers we’re coughing up!” phase of the game, but Marty is scrambling really well. He’s not, as Chico points out on the replay of the sequence, catching the puck well, but he’s doing a great job of just staying in front of it.
13:43 Are the Devils planning to try to sit on this 1-0 lead for the rest of this game? Because we know how that’s going to end.
12:29 Madden and Pando get a two-on-one, with Madden carrying the puck under a lot of backchecking pressure, but Madden doesn’t even manage a shot (or think of passing).
11:31 The Hurricanes send a rush down toward Marty in response to Travis’s attempt at a slapshot, and what ends up happening is that a mass of humanity skates at the net, Marty makes a save, and sticks go flying everywhere. We have no idea what just happened. Perhaps the teams wanted to get one last bit of fun in before Versus joins us.
8:38 LaRose splits the D as he darts down the crease, but Marty is calmly (and amazingly) totally unimpressed by the shot attempt. As an aside, this period has been just amazing. We’re having a hard time diarizing because there’s too much hockey going on.
7:27 Eaves gets called for his second bullshitty penalty, this one for holding while Travis is falling over next to him. During the stoppage MSG+ shows us a replay of the LaRose chance, and Chico calls it “a rabby-doo”. Pookie: “I thought a rabby-doo was a fight.” Schnookie: “Maybe it just means ‘something good’.” Pookie: “Oh, so it’s the opposite of funfetti. Travis is like, ‘This rabby-doo is going to make our cake look awesome!’”
5:27 That power play was decidedly not rabby-doo.
5:09 PandoNation is ready to completely lose its collective mind when its emperor-god gets a clear breakaway from the Carolina blue line, but alas, Ward is no Lalime.
4:21 Marty is super-alert on a puck coming in through traffic off a fantastic set-up for LaRose, and just swallows up the shot, sending us to commercial. As MSG+ is about to cut away, Chico exults, “Excellent save, and he keeps the shutout alive!” We immediately scream with extreme annoyance at the TV, “Chico!!!” For the record, we weren’t the ones who said it. Or thought it.
3:20 The Hurricanes try to set Madden up with a turnover with a mile of real estate at the blue line, but he isn’t alert enough to receive the puck. Carolina promptly thanks its lucky stars and heads down the other way for a great chance for Hooters.
2:09 The great crowd sending up a full-throated “Marty! Marty!” chant.
1:00 The roof is ready to blow right off the building on a flurry of chances Patty and Madden have with Ward out of the net, but the puck stays out of the net. We. Are. Losing. Our. Minds.
0:23 Devils icing. The “Marty! Marty!” chant is coming at a frenzied pace. Carolina calls a time-out.
Before that wacky Patty/Madden flurry a few moments ago, we were discussing how this has been, flat-out, the most evenly-played high-level hockey game we have ever seen. Chico takes this opportunity to echo our sentiment.
0:19 The Canes win the draw, and get the play they wanted. Marty makes the save and freezes the puck. Devils time-out. Chico takes this opportunity to tell us Paulie is “up there with the elite defensemen. I know he doesn’t have the shot. Or the finish. But…” PaulieMartinNation wholeheartedly agrees. But without the “but…” Shots and finish are overrated.
0:15 Pando blamed himself for the GWG in Game 4, for not blocking the point shot, and here he dives out at the point man to throw a sliding, smothering block that kicks the puck to center ice.
0:00 Marty holds fast in the waning seconds, and gets the 44-save shutout , which MSG+ tells us is his playoff career high for saves in a game. We thought he was going to fall apart after getting himself pissy about the LaRose collision in the first period, but damn if he wasn’t amazing tonight.
And seriously, this game was the dictionary definition of awesome. This was hockey at its absolute finest. It was like a pissing contest between two great goaltenders, and two skilled, skating teams just throwing everything they absolutely could at each other. It was thrilling, from start to finish, 1-0 final score and all. Damn. We really, really, really love hockey.
(Oh, and Greene, Clarkson and Marty are the three stars. We’ll go on record saying Ward deserved better.)
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